Title: Rural poverty reduction and food security: The case of smallholders in Sierra Leone
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC68518
ISBN: 978-92-79-23547-4 (print)
978-92-79-23548-1 (pdf)
ISSN: 1018-5593 (print)
1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 25264 EN
OPOCE LF-NA-25264-EN-C (print); LF-NA-25264-EN-N (online)
URI: http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=5220
DOI: 10.2791/76494
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Sierra Leones ranks amongst the poorest countries in the world in terms of per capita GDP, due to several factors. Concerning the agricultural sector and more specifically smallholders, which constitute the big majority of farmers, inadequate tools, land preparation, infrastructure and limited access to markets and inputs, adding to very low labour productivity, cause that smallholders operate far below their productive potential, with crop production remaining primarily driven by (semi)subsistence households generating very little income. Consequently, Sierra Leone's subsistence farming system is characterised by a highly inefficient input/output mixes as well as high pre harvest and post harvest losses. Farmers lack access to yield-increasing inputs (such as improved tools) and face limited ability to invest in economic activities not only due to credit shortage but also to village-level institutional arrangements which do not support using land as collateral for loans. Lastly, reduced cash-income keeps smallholders particularly vulnerable to remain in the poverty-trap. The present report analyses the results of a survey of 604 smallholders in 5 districts in the Northern and Eastern regions of Sierra Leone carried out in 2009 when the EU STABEX-funded projects were concluding. The purpose is on the one hand, to improve knowledge and understanding of the agri-economic and social conditions of rural areas in Sierra Leone, and on the other hand to provide a general assessment of aid programmes financed in this area by the 8th European Development Fund. For this reason, the regions selected for the survey were those representatives of the main agricultural areas of the country where support was provided: the Northern region largely dominated by rice farmers, and the Eastern region where rice farmers are also engaged in coffee and cocoa production under agro-forestry plots. While rice (main staple food) production is expected to comply with food security objectives, coffee and cocoa (main export commodities) are high value export commodities which push economic growth. Consequently, both types of crops are considered relevant in contributing to the country's development. The results of the economic analysis indicate that rice production, which largely covers own household consumption, is far below its potential due to high losses, low productivity and labour-intensity of farming, particularly in the Northern region. On the other hand, coffee and cocoa production in the Eastern region was found to be economically profitable, generating income for most of those smallholders who cultivate those crops. Regarding farm households' characteristics and income, strong regional differences between the poorer North and relatively wealthier East were observed and reflected throughout all factors analysed: yields, household size, sources of farming income, magnitude of losses and productivity. Households in the Eastern region who produce coffee and cocoa, also dispose on average of more family labour, more land and higher income compared to households in the Northern Region. Rice was recognized as being an imperative component for food security while the high market value of coffee and cocoa confirmed both commodities as important sources of income and foreign currency. Qualitative data from the survey indicated that the STABEX aid programmes were perceived as adequate in terms of their technical nature as well as regarding infrastructure and organizational improvements. However, the amount of aid was deemed altogether insufficient considering the number of households requiring assistance. In this sense, the responses to perceived adequacy do not evaluate the measure itself, but rather the amount provided in relation to local needs as understood by the recipients. Based on this analysis a set of recommendations for the policy are drawn.
JRC Directorate:Growth and Innovation

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